I had tears in my eyes over the weekend as football finally returned to us in our lives at a time where we probably needed it most. As I watched these games with empty seats (except in Kovid City and Jackspreadville), I admittedly got jealous and started thinking of the most memorable games I’ve attended in the past. One game in particular that came to mind was Steelers-Jaguars in 2018, which I was fortunate enough to attend in Jacksonville. Not only was the game itself extremely entertaining, with the ‘Lers getting a last second touchdown for the win, but I got to briefly meet a Super Bowl hero. As my friend, whom we call Butters, and I were celebrating a Steelers score, we both turned around to see Santonio Holmes less than a foot away from us.
Butters yelled “Santonio!!!” to which he turned around and acknowledged us. We both looked at each other and laughed and agreed that no one is going to believe us when we tell them about this–mainly because Butters is commonly caught with his foot in his mouth. BUT I can vouch for him, this absolutely happened. With that being said, this got me thinking about all of the other unbelievable encounters I have had with athletes/celebrities. Let me share some.
After a long night out on the town in the Big Apple, my friend and I began our journey back to North Jersey where he lived, by walking across the George Washington bridge to Fort Lee. After trudging 4,760 feet across that bridge while still very drunk, we came across a Rite Aid that was calling both of our names. As I sprinted (stumbled) toward the door shouting for Gatorade, I nearly collided with the largest person I have ever seen in my life. I gathered myself to look up and apologize to this man, and when I saw his face I was stunned.
There was no way in hell I was looking at Patrick Ewing in the middle of a Rite Aid doorway, in some random shopping center in North Jersey. I attributed it to my blackedoutness (maybe brownedoutness at this point). Somehow I mustered out the words, “Sorry Mr. Ewing.” He grunted and nodded, and his wife, who was standing next to him, just shook her head and started laughing. I’m assuming they smelled the tequila radiating from my pores. Anyway, thanks for the memories, Pat!
I ran into Rhys at a lovely Olde City (Philly) establishment, Buffalo Billiards. When I say I ran into him, my friend Steve and I drunkenly forced ourselves on him while he was playing darts with some buddies. From what I remember, Steve and I just kept saying “Dude” to him and telling him how awesome he was (yes, I hate myself too). Rhys wasn’t very fun, and we were offended by it. Looking back on it though, he was in the midst of an awful slump and the last thing he wanted to see was two idiots stumbling toward him while he’s just trying to drink away his sorrows and throw sharp pencils with feathers on them into the wall. Sorry, Rhys.
As a real estate agent by trade, your contact info is all over the internet, so you never know who is going to reach out to you. One day a woman contacted me about looking for a rental property, so I figured out what she was looking for and set her up with a handful of showings. When the day came to go see the properties I got a call from her telling me that I would not be meeting with her, but rather with her client. I was a little confused because she hadn’t mentioned this before. She goes on to tell me his name is Malcolm and gives me his number, and tells me to give him a call when I get to the first house. Upon arrival, I called the number she gave me and the voice on the other end sounded extremely familiar. He tells me he’s here and gets out of the fully tinted Tesla that I happened to be parked next to—holy sh*t that’s Malcolm Jenkins. I am a diehard Eagles fan, and we had just won the Super Bowl. My mind was exploding. Typically when you meet a client, or any other human, for the first time, you introduce yourself. Nope. Not me. All I ended up doing was sticking my hand out and saying, “Thank you.” He was definitely confused at first but then looked down to see the Eagles logo on my polo, then smiled and laughed. ICYWW, yes, I did end up finding him a house.
This is hands down the weirdest and most unbelievable encounter I’ve ever had. Which I’m sure is what most people say after meeting Beast Mode. I was walking home one day in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, down North 2nd Street. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this street, it’s very busy with shops and restaurants with cars constantly driving down it. As I head down the street, I can see in the distance two guys walking in the middle of the street carrying large duffel bags. J-walking in Philly is a birthright, but something about this was different. The two men got closer and I got a better look at them. Both were extremely strong looking individuals, and one of them was very familiar looking. I had seen those dreads before. I had seen those massive gold Dre Beats before. I had seen that face before. I knew exactly who it was. When I got to be within earshot of them I yelled, “Marshawwwwnnnn!!!” Yep. It was him alright. The glare he gave me sent chills down my spine. He looked at me like I was a bag of Skittles he wanted to tear to shreds. My excitement quickly turned to fear as I began to power walk away. I couldn’t believe that just happened. Why would Marshawn be in my neighborhood on a random afternoon? Turns out he was in town to see a specialist for one of his injuries. My advice to you all–if you ever run into Marshawn Lynch, don’t yell his name in public, unless you want to shit your pants (OBJ might be into that sort of thing, but I’m not).
Marshawn may have been the weirdest encounter I have ever had with a public figure, but this one was my favorite. The best part– KB’s own Gator Flint is at the center of it. Back in 2015 when Bryce was still on the Nationals, and Gator Flint and I still lived in Pittsburgh, the Nats were in town to play the Pirates. One morning we ventured down to the South Side to eat at Waffles Incaffeinated, a local breakfast spot. As we entered, a couple was exiting at the same time. Guess who? Bryce and his now wife, Kay. Gator being the Philly fan he is, stopped Bryce and proceeded to put a curse on him (any good Philadelphian would’ve done the same)–telling him that Washington is going to lose every game for the rest of the season! At the time the Nats were battling the Mets for first place in the NL East, and were looking like they were headed to the playoffs. Fast forward to the end of September, and Bryce and Co. were on the outside looking in, after an epic collapse at the end of the season. Is Gator Flint to blame? Probably. What else could it be? Regardless, what truly matters is that Bryce is in his true home now, and the curse has been broken (as long as he remains here). If anything can be learned from this though–don’t cross Gator.
This one is for all of you ’90s babies out there. When I was 8-years-old, my family took a trip to Disney World for my sister’s 5th birthday (yes, I know, 5-year-olds don’t remember shit, what a waste of money). We ended up stopping at some gas station in Orlando. I went into the convenience store to grab some snacks and the cashier said to me, “Hey kid, do you like the Backstreet Boys?” Um, yes, I [BLEEP]ING LOVE the Backstreet Boys (I had to censor myself because again, I was 8 and on a family vacation). But this was the year 2000 and life was good. He points out the window to one of the gas pumps where a man was filling up his Mercedes and says, “There goes one of em’ right now.” It was AJ, the edgy one with tattoos that all of the future emo kids loved. I ran and told my parents and my dad went over and asked if I could take a photo with him.
I know, I know. My Mickey Mouse visor and Sketchers are fire.
While Mr. 3000 (no, not Bernie Mack, RIP in peace) is mainly known for being one half of the super duo, Outkast, Andre Benjamin (yes I was shocked too when I learned his last name isn’t actually 3000) has taken up acting since Outkast has been on an indefinite hiatus. His most recent work was starring in Jason Segel’s new TV show Dispatches From Elsewhere, which was filmed in Philadelphia. One afternoon I was in Chinatown with a couple friends of mine at a restaurant, and we were seated near the window along the sidewalk. As we were waiting for our meal, I happened to look out the window and see someone that looked an awful lot like Andre 3000 playing a flute. Yes, it’s as absurd as it sounds. As the man approached our window I pulled out my phone because it was, in fact, Andre 3000 playing a flute. He saw me filming and stopped in front of our window and just stared, continuing to play, only to follow that up by flipping us the bird. We all lost it and I was so taken aback that I lost the video (I know, how convenient). If you don’t believe me though, here are some other videos that capture this legend in action.
So there you have it. Some of my favorite celebrity encounters. Hit us with yours in the comments. If you want. Or don’t. I don’t care.
This post was written by Hubb. Follow him on IG: @erikemeryhubbard
Check out The Junk Drawers episode on sharing celebrity encounter stories…